Monday, April 28, 2014

Restoration Project - Purpose

You know, I never felt I needed a purpose until I came to Christ. I was happy to finally be out of retail and was quite content to spend many more years where I am now. Working Monday through Friday, weekends and holidays off. Really, this was the dream. [I'm not kidding either, ask any of my friends. This was the #1 goal!] I was ready to enjoy life as it's meant to be enjoyed.

Well, since coming to Christ I realize that I want more purpose than that. Somewhere between self worth and a want to be important I had this strong desire to find out what my calling was. I've been searching myself and some pretty crazy dreams have manifested on my heart. Things I would not have felt competent, nevermind daring enough, to even think about in the past. Yet now I have these crazy ideas on my heart and in my head and I'm praying that at some point in my life they become more than just a dream. It's big.

Obviously, when I was trying to discover my purpose I had to consider what it is that I like love doing and what is it that I could do to help build the kingdom. I want this to be my new purpose. To help others realize there's hope. Life has so much to offer besides living in despair, if only we can open our hearts to the healing. I love to do things for people. I love putting together special gifts, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries... I put so much thought into it that I tend to run out of time quicker than I run out of ideas. I love to help. I love listening and to talking to people. I love to encourage others whether in a blog forum or out on a race course. I love to journal and I love to read. Right now this is the love that has given me the most purpose. I know one day I will be able to find purpose in my other joys as well. I can't wait to see how those plans lay out.

I started this blog a month ago on March 22. Since then I have written 11 posts. Just tonight I surpassed 1100 pageviews. I know to some this is a daily, heck, maybe even hourly stat...but I find that absolutely amazing. I wasn't even sure if I was going to reach anyone. In a way it was more an outlet for me to speak about what I was learning. I figured maybe a few people might read it and find encouragement for tough times. I have vowed to be honest and prayed that through this blog someone may one day find hope in my journey. I know this isn't going to happen overnight and I'm kind of glad in a way. Because nothing happens overnight. Prayer takes time to develop into blessings. But I believe. I really truly do, that one day those who have been following my journey will rejoice with me on the mountaintops!

Before I had even hit 100 views I started to think maybe I was meant to share his gospel through my writing. I have never been a good writer according to academic grades but something feels so real when I am sharing my heart in these posts. [So please forgive me if my commas are in the wrong place and my sentences run on.]

I had been praying about this. I didn't ask for confirmation outright but God knows our hearts. Literally, He started talking to me on Easter Sunday and has not stopped since. I have actually numbered the pages in my journal and have been referencing back and forth whenever I find another piece of information that coincides beautifully with what He's been telling me.

Part of this discovery also meant finding my worth, discovering His love, and learning to trust again. There's a lot going on right now. I share this tidbit because the questions and answers have blended together and I don't think I could even explain it unless I typed out my journal verbatim. I hope I can organize the beauty of it all so you can see what I mean through my posts to come.

Here's a snippet of what I wrote in my journal on Easter Sunday and then what I immediately and literally opened my bible to:

"One of the things I realized today was my purpose to reach people through my writing. Maybe I'm in this darkness because someone else needs the comfort of my words in this time. Maybe He wants everyone to reach the point where they see His glory through my works."

"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lords people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourself(s), others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" ~2 Corinthians 9:12-15

Seriously. Two weeks ago I was upset because I didn't feel special or loved individually by God. He showed up here and not only confirmed that He chooses us for specific purposes but He also reinforced my hope for this blog and so much more. This is spot on. Even at the end, "And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you." I have been so blessed these past few weeks to have heard from some of you who have said you were praying for me. This is just remarkable. I know blogging didn't exist back then but it feels like that statement was written from Paul specifically to me.

Oh, I have so much more to share but I wanted to tell you just how hooked He has me. I keep praying one day I will have more time to spend buried in the pages of His word.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love & Death

Last week was hard and beautiful all at the same time. Do you know that feeling?

My brother and his fiance got married last weekend in New Orleans. Oh, I'm so incredibly happy for them! They are one of those couples that you look at and just know that there is no one else for them, they found their match. They are so ridiculously cute together. It was such a joy to be part of their special day and celebrate with them.

The church was beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. There were pretty stained glass windows all around and everywhere you looked was ornate. As I sat in the front row listening to the priest speak, giving his tips on how to keep a happy marriage, I found myself hanging on every word. As I listened I was also holding back tears. Happy tears and broken tears. This is the first wedding I've been to since I've really given my life to Christ. Oh, how much more profound and emotional it became. Somewhere deep down (more like just buried beneath the surface) feelings began to stir that I've held back up until this point.

I couldn't help but think of a past relationship that I so desperately wished could have been more. Feelings that remain from this are still oh so fresh and raw. (Tell me, does real love ever dissipate?) It absolutely broke my heart thinking how this could have been us. This alone was painful but this is so much deeper than a broken off relationship.

This was years of hoping someone could love me this much, to vow to spend the rest of their life with me. Wondering if there is really anyone out there who could love me that much. Years of reasons to doubt I could ever be that blessed. But it was more than that too.

It was seeing life in the light of Christ. It was questioning the promises He has for me. It was so desperately wanting to have someone to share this life with who loves Christ as much or more than I do. It was yearning for someone who wanted to commit to me in front of their friends, their family and our God. Since coming to Christ this has become something very important to me. It's absolutely necessary. I know without a doubt that I need a man who has a heart for God more than he has a heart for me. It is vital to having a healthy, happy relationship to set the foundation of generations to come. It just has to be.

All this thinking really broke me down. Satan is a sneaky, no good, bum. He took what was meant to be a joyous moment and made me sad. I didn't let it affect me that day too much but less than 2 days later it felt catastrophic. Suddenly everything that never worked out in the past became an indicator of my life to come. I hate myself for feeling that way. I still knew God's promises were true but suddenly it didn't felt they were meant for me. In this moment I viewed my life with Christ in the past 7 months as if nothing had changed in me.

On Monday, since we were still in town, we visited a cemetery. I don't know what you know about cemeteries down here but they are all above ground tombs. Something that has to be done because they are below sea level. Let me tell you, it is eerie beyond belief. It was far more ominous than any cemetery I had been to up north. Walking through this cemetery everything was dilapidated, overgrown, and in some cases there were even holes in the tombs where you could almost see inside. Death was literally within inches from where I stood.

It causes you to really reflect on life. Which normally would be a motivator to make the most of life because you never know when it will be your time. But I was in such a glum mood already that it just made things worse. I thought about my parents dying at such a young age. I thought about the age I am now and realize that if my lifeline is determined by theirs then I might only have 10 years or so left. Holy heck, that's depressing. 

Dreams of getting married seemed smaller than anything now. Forget having babies and seeing them graduate. Or seeing their babies get married and have babies! I know, I mind goes there. [I can see you looking at me disapprovingly over my crazy thoughts!] Up until this point I always hoped it was my parents poor health and my determination to take better care of myself that would allow me to live a longer life. But since my good friend recently died no older than they were and she was in good just makes me wonder.

Flash forward. A lot of contemplation. A lot of feeling like my story is already written. That my future is no different than the past I left behind. It really hit me hard. Something that started out so beautiful made a turn for detrimental. Ashamed to say, I actually thought about turning back. Turning away from how far (I hope) I've come these past 7 months. I believed momentarily that it wouldn't make a difference. Thank you God that someone helped talk me out of that nonsense.

And in what perfect timing. This weekend I can celebrate the life I'm going to have because of His love for me. That God so loved me that he gave his only son to die, so that if I shall believe in Him I shall not perish but have eternal life. Talk about a love story that overcomes death's glare.

I have read quite a few posts about this weekend. That Good Friday was such a sad day for the disciples who didn't know which way to turn after losing their beloved Savior. That Saturday was a continuance of the disappearing hope and belief that there was anything left to live for, not knowing the joy that was coming on Sunday.

I'm definitely in this season of Saturdays. Oh, am I ever. Doubt, confusion, grief, loneliness, disbelief. Yup. I have felt it all. But praise God. Because Sunday is coming. Sunday crushes Satan. Sunday delivers on the promises of a brighter day. Sunday is the day I wait in anticipation for.

How wonderful. That because Jesus loves me I have this promise for my future and for hope. I always thought that was awe-inspiring, I would be happy with the promise of a future, but he promises hope too. He just pours out his promises for blessings. I can put it in my planner and wait for the confirmed date. It's coming. Because Jesus' love bears all things - he took my deadly sins and gave me life. His love believes all things - if I believe in Him and His promises then all things are possible! His love hopes all things - I have a reason to rejoice, I have hope and a promise for a future. Jesus' love endures all things - AMEN. Praise God that his love endures forever. That even though I have been living in Fridays and Saturdays that nothing I do, say or feel can turn his love from me. What a beautiful love story.

His love never ends. Hallelujah.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

There's a lot going on in my life right now. A lot of questions still unanswered, a lot of things that are about to come to pass.. There are major changes in my family and right before I left for vacation I found out there is going to be a major change for me at work. All of this at once has been overwhelming. Yet I had to stop and think today about what that all means.

You see when major things happen it re-shifts your focus. Like when someone close to you dies, suddenly the world stops... normal every day activities, issues, concerns don't seem to mean so much. All that matters in these moments is telling the people that you love, that you love them, respecting one another, and helping one another. It's about unity, coming together, supporting each other, lifting each other up, comforting one another, encouraging one another. There's also time for reflection; What did this person mean to me? What are my favorite memories? How does this change my life forever?

It doesn't have to be death - it can be a breakup or a divorce, a loss of your job, your home, your children. There are major life changes that can bring you to your knees that cause you to reflect on all the above questions.

So this day begs the question, how close am I to Jesus? Am I close enough for all my other concerns to just not seem so important today? Am I close enough to feel the pain of his death on the anniversary of his death? Does it cause me to stop and appreciate my life for what it is, not for what it isn't? It should.

It frustrates me because even though I know that I should be reacting this way, I keep going back to my old thoughts. My pains, stresses and worries. I think that's part of what makes this so beautiful though.

Jesus knows us. He knows our ways. Jesus loved us before we loved him. He loves us more. Oh, my heart grieves for the way I haven't loved him back. Not to his capacity. It's a shame really. I know I can't love Him as much but have I tried anyways? I know all too well the pain of loving someone with every ounce of love you can and not having the feeling reciprocated. It's deep. But not as deep as the nails that cut through his flesh. It's long suffering. But not as long suffering as Jesus endured while hanging on the cross waiting to die. It's heavy. But not as heavy as the sins that were given to him to carry. It's intense. But not as intense as Jesus dying so we may have eternal life.

I can't even speak about the torture he faced leading up to the cross. Torture to me that sounds worse than the cross itself. Agonizing, brutal, horrific torture.

If Jesus lived to an old age and died of natural causes His story would still be great. That God would send His only Son to earth so He could know what it feels like to live in the flesh and deal with our same sufferings. Yet, this story becomes so much more. Because He was crucified so that we may have eternal life. Through His crucifixion an innocent man took on the sins of the world. Through His crucifixion Satan was crushed.

This man who died is not just a friend. This man who died is my God. He died. For me (and you!). This is not any other wake and funeral. This is not any other sad story. In fact, this is a happy story. It has taken me a long time (and still going) to fully understand why I should rejoice instead of cry. Because unlike any other death, this one actually brings life. Undeserving eternal life in a place of glory where there will never be anymore suffering.

I can't even fathom that day. What it will be like. No grief. No hurt. No pain. No suffering. Wow.
No more death. No more break ups and divorces. No more loss of jobs, homes and children. There will never be any fear of bad news. No more waiting for "the catch." There is no catch, it's just beautiful, eternal life.

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
-How Great Thou Art

So today I'm going to focus on Him. How blessed I am even in my suffering. Because without this day I would have no reason to hope. Nothing to look forward to. No promise of a place beyond this. Without hope I have nothing. But because of Jesus, I have everything.


Thursday, April 17, 2014


I started this post a few weeks back and never completed it. I needed to complete it to remind myself of some things I'm struggling pretty hard with right now.

I've been in quite a rut lately. From an outside perspective everything is great but busy. Inside I have been struggling emotionally. I had a few tough days last week where I just broke down and cried. One imparticularly tough night where I filled up my waste basket with tissues. I couldn't figure out why because literally nothing happened that made me feel that way. That's when I realized it was the nothingness that was causing me to feel the way I was.

In the busyness I have not had time to respond to friends, couldn't even meet up with others, fell behind on my bible study homework and was completing multiple days at once. When I read the bible I felt as if I was rushing through and just grazing the surface of whatever meaning was hidden for me. I wasn't really connecting with people and more importantly, I wasn't really connecting with God.

I began to feel defeated. Began to feel that even though I was doing all these amazing things it didn't seem to make a difference to anyone. I cried about this blog. I had a heart to heart with my Father, I poured out my heart and begged for His blessing. I wanted to know that this blog was for His glory. I wanted to know that I was reaching someone with encouragement. I admittedly told Him that in my selfish nature I wanted to know that I was wanted.

I had this awful thought that had creeped into the back of my mind one night. The same night I took out a stock in Kleenex. You see, I had reached the belief that it didn't matter if someone didn't love me the way I loved them. Because God loved me unconditionally. It didn't matter if I didn't feel pretty because God says I'm beautiful. It didn't matter if I wasn't good enough because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Whatever I lacked, He provided. But more importantly than that, I actually felt loved. I have received so many of His promises through the word and have really been uplifted to read them and actually believe they are for me.

Then the thought. It came on first so nonchalantly that I had to do a double take to make sure I understood it correctly. That was where I went wrong. I should have assumed I knew that it was bad news but I quieted just enough to hear loud and clear what I thought I heard the first time. This thought reminded me that God loves us all equally. Sounds harmless enough, right?? But it wasn't. Because I had rested in the belief that I was special to God and that He loved me uniquely. Even during the pain of knowing there was someone in this world who was loved more than I was - it didn't matter because God would always choose me. God would never walk away. He would not betray my trust and He would not let me down. No matter what happened He would pursue me even if I was crazy enough and tried to push Him away.

But in this moment it was as if I wasn't special anymore. The love He gives me is just the same as everyone elses. I suddenly felt let down and hurt. I cried to God and told Him just what I thought of this terrible realization. I was mad at Him for loving us equally. I know, what a earthly, selfish thing to feel. But I couldn't help it. I've known rejection since the day I was born. I grew up believing I would never be good enough for anyone because that's what I was told over and over again. So after a lifetime of rejections and a lifetime of people giving up on me, I really staked my claim in His love. I really wanted to be loved more. Where people fail, God doesn't.

I admitted to God that I still wanted to believe, but that I needed Him to help my unbelief. What He did next was undoubtedly a demonstration of His love.

I mentioned previously feeling doubt over starting the blog. I had been so sure when I started it but fell into a place of uncertainty. I wanted to know that I was reaching people and that it spoke to them. I received a comment from someone I didn't know my new BFF Kelly, that just left me speechless. My pageviews jumped and I felt a burst of encouragement. But it continued.

That weekend I attended a women's retreat at church and that was incredibly uplifting. Someone there gave me her number and wanted to stay in touch. It was so awesome that I had these people that I seemed to suddenly connect so well with. (There were others I had connected with elsewhere earlier in the week as well. Answers to a prayer I have been praying.)

During this retreat index cards were handed out that had a verse we had to read aloud in front of everyone who was there. Every single person had to do it. I was so anxious, I wanted to run, I wanted to cry. But as I sat there something happened. I remembered a promise I made to God a few months ago. I will share more about that at a future time but the gist is this; I promised God I would praise Him in front of others. What I had to read was this:
Thank you, Jesus, for loving me; I am holy to the Lord my God out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen me to be His treasured possession. - Deuteronomy 14:2
Does it give you goosebumps the way it did to me when I realized this was the answer to my prayer? Amazing love. Undeserved amazing love. If I had only stumbled upon this while reading my bible I don't think it would have had the same effect. The fact that I was put in a position where I had to read this aloud in front of an auditorium of women was God's way of getting my attention. I know that was completely orchestrated by His love in an answer to my prayer.

I realized when driving to go visit a friend that same day that I had really been changed. I was happy, joyful, upbeat, positive...who was this girl!? I wasn't sure but I was loving it.

When I visited old coworkers I hadn't seen in years they were all shocked to see me. Everyone commented on how happy I seemed. When one of my friends told another coworker I've been "in the word" he grabbed me and gave me a huge hug and couldn't stop beaming.

When I went to my friends house her husband also commented and rejoiced in the God's work in my life. He said he could just see it, like I had an aura around me. I felt like I was on a high. Just me and God. Seeing that my friends could see it was amazing. I don't get to see them often and he is such a man after God's heart, his noticing was an extra affirmation that God was working in me.

Things were really going great.
So what happened? 

Somewhere in the busyness I lost my grasp on God's love for me. I suppose for me to lose it so quick means I wasn't holding onto it as tightly as I should have been. I've been reflecting back on what was different during that time where I really felt amazing. I realize a few things.

1 - I was living for the Glory of God. I had put aside my emotions. Yes, there are people out there that I love that I want in my life, but maybe now is not the time. I realized this and let them go their own way. Heartbreaking? You have no idea. But I shifted my focus to God. In the busyness and my heart that always wants to love and feel loved I got caught up again in the same emotions of loss and rejection. Only this time it felt like the hammer that put the nails into Jesus. It hurt so bad.

2 - I had spent literally almost 7 days straight focusing on God. I attended different events, church services, and studies. I had been so immersed in God and surrounded by people who also love the Lord. It was incredible. Let's be honest. Life is crazy busy. Most of the time I will not be able to be this involved. There won't be as many events happening in such a close period of time. I realize that week was a blessing for me, I need to find a way to continue to press into Him as much as possible in my every day life.

3 - I had received The Lord's affirmation. I mentioned my doubt over this blog. I mentioned the answers to meeting new people. I mentioned the excitement of old friends as well. Don't forget the words God made me speak aloud to everyone. His proclamation of His love for me. In the past few weeks Satan has stepped in to steal the glory. To steal the new heart I was given. He came in and robbed my hope, my joy, my patience, my beliefs, everything I had built up he robbed. While I see now it was such a easy and sneaky place for him to creep into, it all happened so fast I couldn't keep up.

I am so thankful this week that I had someone I could turn too. I'm not feeling back to that girl I felt like a few weeks ago but I know that His joy is coming and one day I'll be so rooted that it will take more than a few tough weeks to destroy what I have discovered in God.

How about you, my friend? How do you have life abundantly when the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy what God gave you? Let's pray for each other. Stand strong against the enemy. Let's call him out when we see him so we can know where he hides. Furthermore, let's keep believing God. Let's believe His love, promises and plans he has for us. Enough is enough.


Friday, April 11, 2014


This post is part of the SheReadsTruth weekly share series. 

This week we are meditating and studying 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Stripped down to the bones. Honest and true. That's how Paul presented himself to the people of Corinth. So that through his rawness they could see not what a man of God he was, but what a God of men He is.

Just, wow. I have not been playing this same role at all.
I have done things quite the opposite really.

I don't come from a religious background. This journey has really been a series of me stumbling over my own self day after day. Recently, I have been trying to get the most out of each verse I encounter. I hold the words in my hands for a few minutes, molding them back and forth from hand to hand trying to see if it fits me. If there's something God is trying to tell me. I assume each word that comes across must be directed at me. I realize lately that this may not be the case. The results have been pretty detrimental to my progress. Or at least I personally think so.

You see, anytime the word of God is stern, I assume God is upset with me. That I'm not understanding fast enough, that I'm not smart enough to speak on his words, or that He's fed up with trying to get me to see things His way. It's exhausting. Some days, especially lately, I feel like I'm on this journey alone. While I know that's not the case, some days I just want a constant in my life that I can bounce ideas off of. Someone who is going to assure me that what I believe I understood is not crazy.

I know it seems needy of me. To want and need constant assurance. Let me get a little gritty with you so you can understand why this is; I did not grow up in a loving household. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was violent. Most days ended in tears, some started that way. There was physical and emotional abuse. Nothing I ever did was ever good enough. Even if I did something that I felt excited about, my dad would find something else I did wrong. There was yelling and beatings and I really, really, just wanted to die. After all, if you can't do anything right, if you can't make anyone happy and you don't feel loved, what's the purpose?

He had told me that no one was ever going to love me. That I didn't deserve anything nice. One year for Valentines day my parents bought me a 14k gold heart necklace. I must have been about 10 years old. The chain was so thin and eventually became a tangled mess. You know how that goes, the more you try to fix it, the worse it gets. Too afraid to tell my father, I just kept trying to fix it myself. Eventually it broke from all of my trying. (Feels like the story of my life). He specifically told me I was not worthy of having anything nice and he vowed never again to buy me a piece of jewelry. Fast forward to the first and only piece of jewelry a guy ever bought me. Valentines day. Pretty diamond earrings. I felt so loved. Felt like my father was wrong after all. Well, guess what? I left them on the dresser of our hotel when we left to come home from a trip. I've lived with the regret of this for years. It just seems like maybe my father was right. My track record is 0-2.

I also think of how I tried to fix my moms broken heart by convincing her not to live in custody anymore. To make the move to break free. Even though my mom eventually went through with the divorce, it didn't fix things. She suffered wicked depression, anxiety, and heartache. Like my father, she was an alcoholic. She was terrified of this world. Her only reprieve was drinking and listening to music. We spent so many late nights in the emergency room or being checked in to psychiatric care. Try as I might, I could not make her happy. She died 9 years ago as well. There are so many feelings, emotions, things I just cannot describe to you right now.

So here we are in 2014. I am living with the same fear, rejection, hurt, negative impression of myself as I was living all those years ago. I have spent countless hours just crying and crying. I've been in some pretty dark and scary places. Places I'm sure my parents frequented. You would think I would have been released back in 2005 from the emotional and physical pain. As much as it hurt(s) to lose my parents, I did have this selfish and gross sense of relief. But the pain didn't go away. The damage was already done.

There are days I think I've finally made it to the point where my past does not define me anymore. However, lately it seems like I'm living with the same fear, minus the physical abuse. I have felt like a failure. I feel like the people I most care about, I have let down continuously. I have one particular friendship that is on the rocks and it's absolutely devastating to me. I am a fixer. I want to fix things. But as you can see, I tend to do more damage than good.

I really wanted the glory of God to wash away all my pain. To make it better. I guess I wanted a fairy tale ending. I wanted my obedience to God to produce fruit in other areas of my life. I wanted to be blessed for my willpower and my desire for Him. I believe one day I will be, but I'm tired of feeling unworthy now. I remember at one point I believed God loved me. Then I had a thought that took that away. While I still believe He loves me, I no longer feel special. I realized if He loves us all equally and there's no one out there who thinks of me as the love of their life then really I'm just the same I was before I found God. There's no one that I mean more to than someone else in this world. Though I have had moments of absolute awe, the day to day, minute by minute is still an absolute struggle. Some days I even feel like I'm moving backwards. I don't feel worthy of testifying to His love.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because of this verse. Because of the spot where I'm standing today. See, I've been trying to be something incredible. I wanted to leave a lasting impression on God's great glory. I wanted everyone to see how powerful and great He is. But I have failed. Time and time again. But Paul was the opposite. He was raw and dependent on God, just as I am today. He was weak and fearful, as I am. He did not speak eloquently, but very simply. He was not persuasive. Instead, because of his simplicity others were able to see how powerful God was. Because our faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Paul did the opposite of what I've been trying to do.

I said I didn't want to continue to try to apply every verse to my life. But in this case and point I think I need to. So here's my honesty. My rawness. My hurt. I pray that others can see His power through my weakness. Just as with Paul. That I can be as stripped down as Paul was while I continue to pursue His will for my life. I don't have all the answers. I could try to find some deeper poetic meaning here. But I'm not going to do that now. If God wants to show Himself through this confession then He will.

Perhaps this place is right where God wanted me. Facing my past before I focus on my future. Maybe He just wanted me to know it's okay to not have all the answers. That He will speak to me what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. But most importantly, He can still reach others even though my understanding is minimal. Who knows, maybe right now someone can hear Him loud and clear. I pray that is true.

Hopefully one day I will know that 'crazy about you' love. I hope one day I feel differently. I pray one day I can see where I stopped living out the words my father spoke into my life and where instead I followed the words my Heavenly Father speaks into my life. 


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Restoration Project - Rejection

Rejection. The only thing that stings more than hearing the word is feeling the word. Living through it and learning how to cope when what you hope for is denied.

We've all felt some kind of rejection in this life. Failed relationships. The times that you are trying to make it work but it's a two part effort and you're the only one making an effort. Friends that have time for everyone and everything else but you. Plans that wait for a busy schedule to clear while other things fill in ahead of you. Unanswered phone calls, texts, emails - your hope hanging on a line.

These things all scream some pretty nasty words at us. You're not important. If you meant anything then it wouldn't be this way. You can make all the time for someone but that's not going to be reciprocated. Obviously you don't get it. You're stupid to keep trying. Stop trying, it's never going to make a difference. Different nasty words and thoughts, yet they all boil down to the same thing. Rejection.

It feels like I was born into rejection. I was rejected by my parents. Rejected by best friends. Rejected from schools and jobs. Rejected from relationships. Rejected by the people I've trusted the most. Honestly. Some days a girl just wants to give up. 

Rejection takes on many faces. It may not be outright, obvious rejection. In fact, most of the rejection I've ever faced has been subliminal. It's in the words and actions people express. Sometimes in the words and actions people don't express. Maybe I'm the only one, but my mind is constantly in overdrive. I analyze everything. Every word that is said or not said. Everything has a double meaning. There's what you say on the outside and there's the truth that hides behind it.

I'm so busy right now I can't make time for you. I need to look into it so I can find a reason to say no. I wish there was someway I could help you but I don't want to commit to your mess. I'll pray about it because I don't want to go near that with a 10 foot pole.

There's also the rejection where things people say get your hopes up but they never have intentions of following through. I remember as a kid when my uncle would promise we'd go to the park or the zoo on the weekend. I would sit in the window, waiting and watching for him, and my dad would say "I don't know why you're waiting for him, he's not going to show." Dad was right 95% of the time. I've had friends who have said we need to hang out more often, but we never do. Promises of things that would be fulfilled in the future that never came to pass. One day we're going to go here. This summer we'll do this. Even simple plans for coffee or dinner "soon." Nothing that really requires much of an effort, yet the effort is never made.

Othertimes, there was that 5% where my uncle did show, restoring my faith that he does care and he will show the next time too. As a kid you don't get it, We had so much fun. It was such a great day. Why won't he come this time? Please tell me I'm not alone here. That there's moments with people we care about where it seems like there's a reason to hope, only for us to be let down again. I guess as an adult I don't get it either. 

Then there's the really nasty stuff. Where people bring God into the picture as if it's a means to free them from living out any obligation to help, listen, care. You can hear the things they don't say loud and clear; God loves you so I don't have too. God has a plan for your life and it doesn't involve me or the person you are praying for. You should pray about it and let God come up with a solution to your problems. One day God is going to do big things because I don't believe there's hope for you in this situation. There's something better for you or that's what I'll say because I don't believe God is going to bless you this time.

My least favorite are the ones that are deliberate and outright that I've misunderstood God speaking to me. Let me be clear, this is the most sensitive spot in my heart. I have learned to be very careful about what I say and to who because it's had a way of coming back and being used against me and out of context. Specifically, if I share a dream or thought I have, that I believe was placed on me from God, it's extremely insulting to hear others reject those thoughts. This comes from believers and non-believers. What if it doesn't turn out the way you believed God said it would? Sometimes what you believe God has for you is not really what He's going to give to you. It's happened to me so many times. I think you need to let go of that hope. You're never going to be happy with this. I know you think you have it together but you don't. Maybe it's not God and it's just coincidence. If it was going to happen that way then it would have already. 

Lately it's just been unbearable. How is a girl supposed to find relief with this overwhelming world? There are days I just want to leave this planet. Be done with it. Let God say I've finally got it right and call me home.

What I want most is hope. I want someone to be on my side. I want to believe that someone out there cares enough so much about me that they don't would never leave me hanging when I need it the most. I want to know I have someone to turn to when I need a shoulder to cry on. I want to be able to express what's bothering me without having to apologize for it. To know that they truly want me to share what concerns me because they love me that much.

Thank God that Jesus became flesh and took on the pains of this world. If there's one overwhelming emotion He dealt with it was rejection. His own people rejected Him. His friends betrayed Him. His family didn't believe Him. Even the people of today, who know He wasn't bluffing after all, still reject Him. In death He still can't catch a break from rejection. I can't imagine the pain of rejection He must have felt, knowing He was going to die for the very people who were crucifying Him. That He was giving His life on the hopes that they would change their ways and be saved for an eternity. What kind of guy does this?

Lord, even when I have trouble all around me, you will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, you will reach down and save me by your power. ~Psalm 138:7

So how do I cope? I start by turning to my Savior. The one who became flesh to take on rejection so that I could be saved. The things I cry out for in this world, Jesus has become for me. Instead of ridiculing my hope, He encourages my hope and reminds me that "All things with God are possible." He promises to always be with me and to never leave or forsake me. He not only vows to never leave but pursues me when I'm the one walking away. What undeserving grace I have. To be pursued by the King, who died for my sins, who runs after me even if I've become so weary that I declare to just give up. "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me." I know I can cry on His shoulder because I've already been there. He wants to offer compassion when I'm hurting.

"I love you with a love that will last forever." ~Jeremiah 31:3

There are days that I grieve because I cannot physically see or touch Jesus. I long to know Him in human form the way the disciples did. There are days I wish I could call Him up and ask if He'd like to get a coffee and sit and watch the waves with me. To stay up late conversing about His plans and our future. To laugh, cry, rejoice, grieve and dance with Him. I want to see His face. To know when He's happy. To see Him stand up against that which hurts me. To know when He's proud of how far I've come. To hear His voice as He says He will never leave me. I ache for the day that I can follow Him forever. To never leave His side. To praise Him and love Him like He has done for me. Until that day I seek Him. He will provide what I need. He will sustain me by bringing people into my life who are going to support, encourage and love me. I've seen quite the demonstration of this lately and one day soon I'll share some of the amazing things He's already done.

The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you. ~Zephaniah 3:17


As a side bar; I know there are friends and family that will read this post and object to my viewpoint. There will be people who want to reply to this message. I am not posting this because I am asking for you to do anything different. This post is not about anyone or anything specific but an overall feeling that begs to be reconstructed by the grace of God. I know I'm loved. I know I have people out there who I can trust and turn to. Please respect my decision to share this message even if you don't agree.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spiritual Endurance

First of all, quick hello to the lovely ladies from SheReadsTruth! For those of you not familiar with this group, check them out! You won't be disappointed. 

This week's study has us meditating and confessing. We are reflecting on Joshua 1:8-9.

To begin, I have a confession. I did not plan for this but in keeping with my honesty with you all, I am afraid I might not be in the best frame of mind to completely receive God's word. Which is kind of ironic considering the verse we are studying. You'll see what I mean. And if you read to the end you can see just how He always shows up when you seek Him. Even while writing a blog post after you just confessed you just might not have what it takes to fully understand today. 

This is a verse that I've heard a ton of times before today. I have a scripture wall in my bedroom that I started, it helps me memorize the verses and to see them right before I run out my bedroom door. Whether I'm off to start my day or to venture out one more time, they are always encouraging and helpful.

The funny thing about this verse is I never saw it like I did tonight. I never really tried to find more to what "meets the eye." Yet, there's definitely further meaning here.

Joshua is instructed to be strong and of good courage. What does that mean? Well, I think the strong here is not necessarily referring to lifting weights at the gym. In our daily life we take on feats that we could only do had we been "working out." Verse eight tells us how to be strong;

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Less talking, more doing. Meditating on the word of God is how we strengthen our spiritual being. And this is where that God humor comes in. I have been extremely busy the past few weeks and have spent significantly less time reading the bible then I would like to admit. The strange thing is, I feel it in my soul. I have been worn down, weak, hurt, stressed, exhausted... so not the vision of strength God commands from me. But when I read the word, when I spend time soaking it all in, it transforms me. My day gets brighter, my patience lasts longer, I am blessed with an abundance of grace, and I can take on the worries of the world a little easier. Keep reading and you'll see His grace before your very eyes!

Meditating on the word turns my ways into His ways. When I study the word I am more apt to carefully make decisions rather than let my flesh (emotions, good mood vs bad mood, wants and desires) take charge. I'm an emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It's a big part of what I've tried to overcome. I see where this has caused friction in the past and I think it's just so ugly to live that way. When I'm allowing my emotions (hurt, anger, sadness) to rule, I don't even want to be near me.

Using discernment means my decisions are faith based and even if I still make the wrong choice, at least I would have done so based on prayer. There's less room for regret in these cases, even when we're wrong. Hard to regret that which you mulled over in prayer, as opposed to the rash decision that changes things forever. Meditation leads to better choices and better choices leads to us being prosperous and successful.

What I love the most is what comes next though; It's the encouragement God gives because he knows there will be moments where we go from victorious warrior to doubtful onlooker.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When we believe we heard and understood God, and when we choose to obey based on our belief, it can begin to look or feel like we made the wrong decision. With waiting comes doubt; did I understand God speaking to me? Was it all in my head? Maybe it was my desire and not God's. If it's taking this long I surely misunderstood. If I figured it out I wouldn't still have this daily struggle. Just because we hear God doesn't mean everything immediately comes to pass.

Our faith can waver like a flag in the wind on a dark night. Because of the darkness the flag can be hard to see and sometimes the wind blows it so hard it seems like it may fray to pieces. Other times our faith is more like the wind where we can't see it at all but only feel it. We can't touch it but it touches us. Even in the darkness we can feel it, we can hear it and it has the power to move us. God restores that faith that can move us with this statement to Joshua. He gives us something to wait for with expectant hope.

I would like to imagine the angel of God's army fighting satan to get to me. The way that he did for Daniel. That God has already answered my prayer, He's just fighting tooth and nail for every ounce of blessing that He wants me to receive. The message God gave to Daniel is very similar to our passage now;

"Pay attention to my words. Stand up, because I’ve been sent to you. Don’t be afraid, Daniel. God has heard everything that you said ever since the first day you decided to humble yourself in front of your God so that you could learn to understand things. I have come in response to your prayer."

When Daniel fell to his knees, unable to speak, through the angel he once again heard affirmation;

He said, “Don’t be afraid. You are highly respected. Everything is alright! Be strong! Be strong!”

Before you continue, reread those scriptures and input your name in place of Daniel. Anyone else wowed? As if there are a crowd of angels in heaven looking on and cheering for you!

I find remarkable similarities between these two scriptures. God doesn't repeat things just because He has nothing else to say. He repeats them so that we can meditate on them. Less talking about the word and more hearing it. We can't listen well when we're talking. Studying God's word is the same, there's time for prayer and there's time to be silent.

I love that in both scriptures God says to "Pay attention to my words" (meditate on it day and night) and "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not by dismayed." (don't be afraid, everything is alright, be strong!)

Here's that abundance of grace I mentioned at the beginning; Until I was looking up the scripture on Daniel to reread it, I didn't remember the things the angel spoke to Daniel. I simply remembered the fact that the angel was fighting to get to him. The fact that we are studying almost the same conversation with a different person from the bible tells me that God really wanted my attention on this one. This is what spending time in the word does for you. After confessing my weakness, he gave me strength. Amazing grace.

Let's remain strong. Let's keep focused on his word. Let's not be dismayed when things don't go our way quickly. It doesn't mean we didn't hear God, it just means He's still working on it. All great works of art take time to create. You are not a dot on a canvas to hang in a museum. Your bigger picture is a work in progress that one day God will hang in his hall of fame and say, "I made her!" and she is perfect and complete!